Many countries use top- down approaches in their policies and then wonder why they don’t work out. Top- down policies and regulations only work if the ‘top’ is in touch with what goes on at the ‘bottom.’ If policy makers decide to implement a safety law such as wearing protective overalls mandatory within factories, they need to be aware of whether or not protective jackets are provided by the factory, or they have to be purchased by the workers. If the latter, the policy will not be successful as workers will not expend their hard- earned wages on something that should be included in the working conditions of a factory. Thus, a top- down approach to change and development isn’t always successful. However, grassroots programmes have consistently shown results, mostly as they are designed in tandem with the communities themselves, and are solution- oriented. Here are some effective ways of programs that can achieve development of a community:
Start with the Smallest Manageable Problem
Usually, it’s the biggest problems that are the most glaring, such as there’s a roaring trade in soft drugs like weed happening among young adults in a community. Tackling that is daunting. So focus on the smaller problems instead: Why are they doing drugs? Where do they get the money to purchase drugs? If one of the reasons is that they are doing drugs out of boredom or have nowhere to go after school, talk to local councils, rustle up some local elders and active members of the community, and start after- school activities and programmes for the children to participate in. They don’t have to be educational; they can be vocational like mechanic work, wood work, or designing. Encourage local businesses to hire young adults (legally) to work in them and give them responsible jobs, not just manual labour.
Connect Everyone to Information
Knowledge is power, and may be the tool needed to battle an economic slump. Never assume that schools and institutions give all the info. Sometimes it’s the boss who will teach the intern the practical facts of life. Work with the community to improve internet connectivity and build networks whenever possible. For instance, if doctors in the local hospitals and clinics are finding it difficult to treat their patients because the records go missing, help fund an ehealth record system where all the patient files are on a database so that even when the paper files are missing, the local doctors can see the patient history and treat them accordingly.
An ehealth record system will also help doctors see if their patients have improved or slumped back, particularly when it comes to patients who don’t have access to all the regular medical services.